"The Trip"

I can't help myself from commenting on a film I came across recently. Appropriately named "The Trip," this gem from the 60s sought to convey through film the feeling of being on LSD. If you haven't seen it, check it out.

Not because it's good. It isn't. Not because it has Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in it. You can catch them in all their glory in "Easy Rider." Not because Jack Nicholson wrote it. He's more of an authority on challenging authority than he is on taking illicit drugs. Check out "Drive, He Said." No, see 'The Trip" because its nutty rendition of an acid experience shows precisely how difficult it is to accurately portray such a thing.

In summary, Bruce Dern gently guides Peter Fonda through his first trip while chilling out in seclusion, mainly laying on a couch. That's about it. And some hi-larious visuals that made the Flash Gordon techies before them look like old pros. Why does everyone get stuck on the visuals?

What cannot be shown is the riddle of LSD: the search for our place in the universe. That can mean our physical location in a distant dimension or our emotional role in the local PTA. It can be a constant query or an occassional aside to an otherwise social scene.

It's the throbbing emotions, the undercurrents of mass psyche that amaze me, not the chemical pyrotechnics, the cheap parlor tricks.

Still, the many rituals shown in the movie will ring true with those who have Been There. The preparation: music, props; the isolation: a quiet, hillside home; and the required trust of your host/partner all appear genuine and accurate.

But perhaps the most knowing signal was the excitement, the great anticipation and nervousness displayed just after Fonda's first ingestion, before the trip begins. This feeling warms me now, even after all these times.

It's like the clinking of a climbing rollercoaster, heavy and discouraging in the bellly, yet spry and invigorating in the mind. What would this journey be like? There's no stopping now.